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Published: Wednesday, 12/10/2008

Self-interest behind recall

YOU needn't be a supporter of Mayor Carty Finkbeiner to agree that the announced mayoral recall effort is a bad idea, or to wonder whether the people behind the action really have Toledo's best interests at heart.

Even Carty's enemies have to be shaking their heads at this ill-timed political melodrama and asking the same pointed questions.

The obvious one: Why would anyone mount an expensive, 90-day petition campaign to collect 19,753 signatures to put the recall before voters in September when the mayor is up for re-election next November anyway? If Toledoans don't like the job he's doing, they'll recall him, in effect, by tossing him out of office at the polls.

Also, if it's so important to get Mr. Finkbeiner out of Government Center immediately in favor of someone more competent, why was no alternative candidate identified? Does such a person even exist? Do the recall backers really want City Council President Mark Sobczak to become mayor, or is the campaign merely an attention getter for a stealth candidate to be sprung upon the electorate later?

And why would this suburban cabal think it could be successful in substituting its judgment on public policy issues involving the city for that of actual Toledoans? Virtually none of the people who have been identified as being behind the recall would be qualified to even sign the petition because most of them don't live in the city. Several of them do, however, have personal interests that could benefit from a new, more "business-friendly" mayor.

Moreover, if the intent is to persuade the mayor to give up and decline to run for re-election, the recall backers don't understand Mr. Finkbeiner's tenacity. The recall undoubtedly will only cause him to redouble his intention to stay in office - even if it is true, as polls indicate, that he has worn out his welcome with voters after three terms.

Beyond those questions, we also wonder if the secondary purpose of recalling Mr. Finkbeiner is to lay the groundwork for later convincing voters to abolish Toledo's strong-mayor form of government. While it's true that the strong-mayor concept depends largely on the stature and leadership qualities of the individual occupying the office, it's also likely that business interests would have more success manipulating a city manager form of municipal government to suit their own ends.

Notwithstanding the number of people who have legitimate gripes about Mr. Finkbeiner and his frequently erratic conduct of city business, "Take Back Toledo" appears to be composed of maybe five suburban real estate developers, amplified by the megaphone of right-wing talk show radio. That's a far cry from the "courageous and highly motivated Toledo and Toledo-area businessmen and women" the group so piously claims as its membership.

In short, there's nothing courageous about hiding behind the cloistered walls of the Toledo Club to plot the takeover of municipal government if the motivation is personal gain and not the greater good of this city and the proud people who actually live here.



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